Meet Maria Balyasna, SNRG Director of Investments and Business Analytics
Maria Balyasna is a proud Ukrainian. Clearly, any introduction must first focus on the distressing war in her homeland. She harbours an incredible ambition that relates to her career with SNRG.
“I have always been a very proud Ukrainian,” she confirms. “I stopped living my normal life from the early morning of 24 February, because of the pain that my homeland has been going through since then.
“I’ve obviously been helping my friends, family and the Ukrainian army in all the ways I possibly can, and I am enormously grateful for everything that the British public and the government are doing to help the people and to stop the war.
“The only way I can process the guilt for being safe, is the realisation that by doing my share in growing SNRG, I can bring my ambition closer to reality.
“This is to help the UK and potentially other European countries move away from reliance on Russian fossil fuels, by using SNRG SmartGrids.”
Maria recognises the crucial importance of microgrids in bringing stability to communities across the world, but the ambition to rebuild Ukraine with this technology after the war, is one we can all connect with on many levels.
As for Maria’s life in the UK, she has been living in London for eight years, with her husband and two young children. She works remotely for SNRG but takes the opportunity whenever she can to meet the team face to face.
Away from work, Maria loves swimming. “As part of a Swimathon a few years ago, I swam 2.5km in just over an hour, and still feel very proud about it,” she says.
“Open water swimming in the UK was a very interesting experience, due to the need to wear a wetsuit – it’s so cold, even in summer! There is also the danger of being attacked by a swan…”
Maria has worked in corporate finance roles for more than 15 years, in Ukraine and the UK.
“Be it in KPMG, a boutique investment bank or Centrica, my roles were always to do with mergers and acquisitions, investment evaluation or fundraising.
“For the past eight years I’ve been in the energy industry, exposed to a range of progressive technologies – Liquefied natural gas (LNG), wind, solar, anaerobic digestion – as well as energy trading and optimisation.
“In addition, my role at Hive provided valuable insight in consumer electronics and first-hand experience of how the Internet of Things is changing the household energy market sector.”
All this led perfectly to Maria taking on the role of Director of Investments and Business Analytics at SNRG in February 2021.
“The technical knowledge came in handy for my role at SNRG, as smartgrids are about optimising the use of locally generated renewable energy while encouraging consumer interaction through their smartphones,” Maria explains.
“My job has a broad range of responsibilities, but in essence it is to keep the business plan with measurable financial targets up to date, to evaluate the projects we commit to, investments and future acquisitions for financial viability, and to ensure that we can make timely decisions from accurately measuring actual performance against plan.
“A lot of my efforts are focused on product development, as well – techno-economic modelling and pricing, in particular.”
With Maria embedded in the financial side of operations, she welcomes the investment in SNRG by Antin.
“I think the biggest challenge in financing renewable projects is to find the right partner – someone whose interests are aligned with yours; someone who appreciates the complexity of the energy sector, and perhaps most importantly, has trust in you.
“We are very fortunate to find our perfect partner in Antin, and I am very optimistic about what we can achieve together in the next few years.
“For my role specifically, it means that all the effort that was concentrated on fundraising activity can now be channeled into commercial evaluation of new projects and partnerships.”
Maria’s positivity points to a better life for all involved. “Microgrids are attracting more and more interest among house builders in particular, as they offer a greener alternative to traditional grid supply, more efficiently service increased demand from all-electric homes, and ultimately reduce energy bills for the residents,” she enthuses.
“I am convinced that the SNRG SmartGrid can play its role in making renewable energy much more accessible to individuals.
“When the energy consumed by your efficient, all-electric home and your electric car is generated on community rooftops, and you don’t rely on grid supply, and don’t worry about the size of your energy bill, a lot of dots need to be connected to make all this a reality.
“I enjoy connecting those dots one by one, day after day, at SNRG.
“One of the key challenges in the energy industry is its complexity. I enjoy cutting through this complexity for our clients – both in industrial and commercial, and residential housing – which ultimately helps them achieve their carbon reduction targets.
“In addition, the vision for the SNRG SmartGrid solution is that, through the smartphone app, individual consumers would be able to make conscious choices to maximise the share of renewable energy in their day-to-day lives.
“This is how I know I am at the right place.”